Austin: City Approves $23 Million For Real Estate Acquisition For Corridor Program
Feature Photo: An overview map of MLK Jr. Blvd. mobility corridor improvements.
by Art Benavidez
Austin (Travis County) – Earlier this month, the Austin City Council approved for the Office of Real Estate Services to commence negotiations with landowners for $23 million for partial real estate acquisition.
The $23 million for the acquisitions will be earmarked from the $482 million that had been approved for nine corridors in the Corridor Construction Program in the 2016 mobility bond.
The properties are along the nine segments of the Corridor Construction Program and allows the city to make landowners offers for partial purchases to any of the 2,166 street-facing properties along the program’s 49 miles of right-of-way.
When procurements are crucial to extend the right-of-way, the city will negotiate with landowners for the amount of land needed.
According to city officials, the city does not plan to make offers to purchase whole properties from any landowner or business.
City officials did question what kind of impact the project would have on local businesses.
Corridor Program Office Director Mike Trimble said that local businesses should not worry about any negative effects with regards to partial acquisitions and corridor improvement.
Trimble said he expects the program to impact approximately 160 properties along the corridor. According to the eight corridor maps, the roads that will be most heavily affected in the short term are East Riverside Drive and East MLK Jr. Boulevard.
The Corridor Construction Plan consists of improvements along:
Airport Boulevard from North Lamar Boulevard to US 183
Burnet Road from Koenig Lane to MoPac
East MLK Jr. Boulevard/FM 969 from US 183 to Decker Lane
East Riverside Drive from I-35 to SH 71
Guadalupe Street from MLK to West 29th Street
North Lamar from US 183 to Howard Lane
Slaughter Lane from FM 1826 to Vertex Boulevard
South Lamar Boulevard from Riverside to Ben White Boulevard
William Cannon Drive from Southwest Parkway to McKinney Falls Parkway
The city draft plan propose these mobility improvements:
30 miles of pavement rehabilitation
120 traffic signal upgrades
30 intersection improvements
75 miles of sidewalk or shared-use path upgrades to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
40 miles of bicycle lanes
40 new mid-block signals for pedestrians
Council member Ann Kitchen said there have been constituents who have raised concern about the negative impact the project could have, however she was pleased when corridor officials stated that would not be the case.
“There is a strong interest in protecting our local businesses and we, as throughout the city, have some very special businesses along South Lamar,” she said. “However, the project will make it more possible and accessible to reach these businesses for people.”
Alex Gale, interim officer at the Office of Real Estate Services told the council that the objective is to minimize any impact to local businesses.
“What we’re really looking at, is slivers of land to help with bike lanes, to help with sidewalks,” he said. “As well as relocate utilities where we need to do that.”
Art Benavidez (Construction News Reporter, Central Texas) is a seasoned journalist with over 15-years of experience in writing breaking news and in-depth features at the local level. He honed his research and reporting skills in newspapers and magazines throughout South and West Texas along with expertise in crafting digital content as Managing Editor of New Image Marketing Research Corporation. Benevidez is a Texas native and graduate of UT-RGV.